"One of the fellows in the lab in Erie called and told me he'd seen a flash in the test tube; it looked like the saltwater made a flame,” Kanzius said. When he performed experiments on saltwater, Kanzius found the saltwater burned when he heated it with radio waves. He was able to keep saltwater burning like a candle.
Subsequent testing showed that subjecting saltwater to radio frequencies changes the molecular structure of water. The salt burns away, leaving fresh water behind.
"If the byproduct of burning saltwater is free desalinized water, that's a pretty nice byproduct to have,” Kanzius said. A scientific article was published in Materials Research Innovations this year that confirms the molecular change in saltwater when exposed to polarized radiofrequency radiation at 13.56 MHz.
Kanzius said independent researchers measured the flame's temperature at above 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit, which indicates an enormous energy output.
Penn State University chemist Rustum Roy said the question of saltwater's potential lies largely in its energy efficiency. Kanzius said he has powered a hot-air engine with saltwater, but whether the system can power a car or be used as fuel is not known.